Sunday February 12, 2017
A file photo of members of the Somali community in MOmbasa. ELKANA JACOB
More than 4,000 Somali youths living in Mombasa and other Coast counties cannot register to voter as they lack IDs.
Officials of the Mombasa Somali Community aired this and other grievances in a closed-door meeting with Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa on Saturday.
They claimed the youths were facing challenges including being extorted by those charged with issuing IDs.
Committee chairman Mohamed Ibrahim told journalists that many in the community had reported that registration officers demand bribes of between Sh50,000 and S200,000.
“Our community has been turned into a money-minting machine by state officers who demand bribes before serving members yet we pay taxes like any other Kenyans,” said Ibrahim.
He alleged that those who refuse to give the bribes are asked to travel to their counties in North Eastern to apply for the IDs.
“They are asked to go back to their home counties of Mandera, Garissa and Wajir while other Kenyans who reside in Mombasa and other counties in Coast are served immediately,” he said.
The chairman said Marwa assured them that investigations would be carried out and action taken.
Sheikh Hassan Omar, treasurer of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, said registration officers who have worked at their stations for more than seven years were the ones engaging in bribery.
“We have their names and if appropriate action is not taken, we shall document them and send them to appropriate offices,” he said.
The officials also complained that Somalis were facing discrimination in the war on terrorism, and that this was affecting their acquisition of IDs.
“We have stated that we fully support the government in the fight against terrorism and the drugs trade but we are bemused by the wholesale condemnation of our community,” said Omar.
He called for the passage of punitive laws that will impose heavy fines and longer jail terms on those found guilty of dealing in drugs.
“Thousands of youths in Mombasa and elsewhere in the country have suffered atrocities because of the drugs business. The government must pass lethal legislation to punish those who are in this dirty trade,” he said.